knox grammar school


Wallaby Seven Bruce Taafe (OKG62) boycotts South Africa during apartheid

Bruce Taafe (OKG62)

Bruce Taafe (1944-2018) attended Knox from Year 7 to Year 12, graduating in 1962. He was a highly skilled sportsman competing in the top level teams in Cricket and Rugby throughout his schooling. Bruce captained the 1st XV in 1961 and 1962 and was also twice selected as Captain of the CAS 1st XV. Bruce continued to pursue rugby after Knox, playing with Gordon Rugby and achieving a place in the Wallabies Australian Rugby Team. Between 1969 and 1972, he claimed three international rugby caps for Australia.

The 1960s Wallabies tours of South Africa during the apartheid years left seven non-Indigenous players shocked at the treatment of black South Africans. The players included Jim Boyce, Anthony Abrahams, Paul Darveniza, Terry Forman, Barry McDonald, Jim Roxburgh and Bruce Taafe. They would become known as 'The Wallaby Seven'.

The Wallaby Seven went on to boycott the 1971 Springboks tour of Australia – a time when South Africa was still sending all white, racially selected teams to countries who would accept their players. Australian Prime Minister William McMahon called The Wallaby Sevens a "national disgrace", while Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam spoke out against the tour.

Apartheid was a global issue, a touchstone around racism at the time. As well as The Wallaby Seven’s boycott, Australia’s decision to welcome the Springboks sparked mass anti-apartheid demonstrations. Tens of thousands of campaigners clashed with governments, police, and rugby fans in protest of the tour.

As the apartheid regime ended in South Africa, Bruce Taafe and the 'Magnificent Seven' were honoured with the Medal of Freedom by President Nelson Mandela. This came as recognition for their steadfast opposition to systemic racism abroad. Bruce’s strength of character, selflessness and integrity remain a lesson for Australian sportsmen and sportswomen as well as the wider community.

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